Hindi films have often depicted rare illnesses/disorders/disabilities... Ghajini [Anterograde Amnesia], PAA [Progeria], My Name Is Khan [Asperger Syndrome], Taare Zameen Par [Dyslexia], Black [Alzheimer's], Karthik Calling Karthik [Schizophrenia], Guzaarish [Paraplegia]. Now Ganesh Acharya's Angel talks of Cerebral Palsy. Like his peers, Acharya isn't merely highlighting a disability. Angel is primarily a love story... a hatke prem kahani in filmi lingo.
Love can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone. It can happen to people who have arrived at the sunset of their life and also to those with serious disabilities. Though we talk about how love is the purest emotion, our society, very often, does not accept love when it doesn't fit into our perception of love. To cite an example, love between an elder person and someone half his/her age or love between members of the same sex or between disabled individuals may make us uncomfortable. We get judgmental at times, thinking that we are right, while others - those who don't act according to what we feel is right - are labeled as rebels, oddballs and misfits. Angel does that. It goes into the unconventional zone, depicting a love story between a social misfit and a woman suffering with Cerebral Palsy.
There's talk that Angel is similar to Guzaarish. It's not. Nor is it similar to Sadma. In Guzaarish, Hrithik was completely paralyzed below his neck, while Madalsa's character in Angel can move and crawl. The fact is Angel borrows heavily from a South Korean film called Oasis, directed by the acclaimed Lee Chang-dong. In fact, if you've watched Oasis [it's one of my favorites], it has the quality to stay fresh in your memory even after you've watched incalculable films subsequently. But Angel fails as a film to strike a chord.
The subject material is stunningly bold-n-beautiful, but the challenge lies in implementing it with conviction. Ganesh Acharya had handled the emotional moments with flourish in his directorial debut Swami, but he doesn't get it right this time. He had an opportunity to offer a convincing vision of what love actually means. But the writing lets him down and therefore, Angel doesn't come across as an intriguing human drama. The delicate love story lacks the sensitivity, feeling, compassion and understanding it deserves.
Final word? Angel is just not a compelling human story!
Abhay [Nilesh Sahay] flaunts society's rules, unaware of or unconcerned with the consequences of his actions. After serving his sentence for the manslaughter that he had committed, Abhay decides to meet the family members of the deceased man and apologize for his reckless act. When he arrives at the address, he finds a couple moving out of their room, handing their disabled sister, Sonal's [Madalsa] responsibility to a caretaker [Rakhi Vijan]. Sonal suffers from Cerebral Palsy, while her brother and sister-in-law cash on her disability. Abhay is attracted to Sonal and leaves behind his phone number.
Sonal calls up Abhay one night. Slowly, a friendship begins to blossom between Abhay and Sonal. One fateful night, Sonal's brother and sister-in-law catch Abhay and Sonal making love. Abhay is arrested and it's up to Sonal to try to absolve Abhay, who is accused of raping her. The world is against them...
Angel had the potential to move you with a compelling love story, but the writing is amateurish, while the execution of the material is equally childish. There are gaping holes in the screenplay and one wonders how it was okayed in the first place. For instance, the caretaker is never around when Nilesh visits Madalsa. StrAngely, not even once do the neighbors living in this busy chawl spot Nilesh taking Madalsa out for an outing.
That's not all, the songs are like the unwanted guests here that pop up at regular intervals. From the rustic chawl, the lovers suddenly start singing songs in Switzerland and are back to the chawl in Mumbai the moment the song ends. The climax takes the cake. It is most hurried and looks like a screenplay of convenience, with Nilesh being released from prison and cleared of rape charges so easily. The music doesn't work, except for the title track. But the placement of songs is a problem. Cinematography is good. Dialogue are below the mark.
Given the poor script, there's not much the lead actors can really do. Madalsa does try hard and so does Nilesh. Both make a sincere attempt and the earnestness shows. The sole sequence which really appealed to me is when Madalsa feeds Nilesh; it's a touching moment. Aroona Irani is as usual. Manoj Joshi is loud. Kishori Shahane Vij doesn't get scope. Rakhi Vijan is passable.
On the whole, Angel fails to impress.
Director: Ganesh Acharya
Cast: Nilesh Sahay, Maddalsa Sharma, Aruna Irani, Manoj Joshi